CHESS

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The Independent Online
With four rounds left to play in the Chess Olympics in Moscow, the battle for the medals is wide open. The latest results have left eight teams at the top within half a point of each other, and another six teams, including England, only a point be hind the leading pack.

With most matches among the strongest teams resulting in nothing more decisive than a 21/2-11/2 score-line, any number of teams may now dream of vaulting to the gold medals with a crushing last-round performance.

In the top 10 pairings of the 10th round, only the Ukraine, who beat Germany 3-1, could manage more than the statutory 21/2 points. That result earned them a share of the lead on 26 points, equal with Russia I, Russia II and Georgia. Those four are half a point ahead of Estonia, Hungary, Bosnia and Romania.

England beat Lithuania by 21/2-11/2 (wins for Short and Speelman, a draw for Nunn and a loss by Miles) to catch up with the pursuing pack - Yugoslavia, China, Netherlands, Croatia and Armenia - on 241/2 points.

A contributory factor to the closeness of the competition has been the poor form of Garry Kasparov, who leads the top seeds and favourites, Russia I. From his seven games so far, Kasparov has scored one win, one loss and five draws.

While Kasparov has been struggling, his erstwhile challenger, Nigel Short, has been having a happier time. The match against Lithuania provided his quickest win for ages.

White: Short Black: Malisauskas 1 e4 c6 11 Bxd4 dxc4

2 d4 d5 12 Nb5 Nc6

3 e5 Bf5 13 Bxc4 Nxd4

4 Nf3 e6 14 Nxd4 Bc5

5 Be2 c5 15 Qa4+ Ke7

6 Be3 cxd4 16 Nb3 Qb6

7 Nxd4 Bg6 17 Rac1 Rhc8

8 0-0 Nc6 18 Be2 Kf8

9 c4 Nge7 19 Rxc5 Rxc5

10 Nc3 Nxd4 20 Qa3 resigns 6.Be3 is a pleasant departure from the stereotyped 6.c3, saving the c-pawn for a two-square advance later. Black seemed a little bemused by this strategy and allowed the centre to become open too fast.

10...Nxe5 would run into trouble after cxd5 followed by Bb5+ or f4, but Black's central exchanges did not solve his problems either. With 14...a6 losing to 15.Qa4+ b5 16.Nxb5 axb5 17.Bxb5+ Ke7 18.Qb4+, Malisauskas tried to castle manually, but just as hewas close to arriving, he lost a piece. 20...Rc8 21.Rc1 ends it.

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